Steven Spielberg: ”War Horse’ is a love story’

Director is in London to launch his new WW1 epic

Steven Spielberg has described his new movie War Horse as a “love story”.

The First World War drama, released this week, is adapted from the stage play and before that, the acclaimed childrens’ novel from Michael Morpurgo. It concerns a boy named Albert who signs up for war in an apparently futile attempt to rescue his beloved horse Joey.

And the veteran director said at the film’s press conference in London today that there is a message of hope despite the grim setting. Spielberg said: “The bones of the story, it’s a love story. That is universal, it was that way in the book, it was that way in the west end, that’s what we tried to do in our adaptation of War Horse, it’s a bonding story, where Joey basically circumvents the emotional globe of the great war and he gets very connected with the people who are caring for Joey. More importantly Joey has a way of relating to people from both sides of the war, and that was very evident in the play.”

Acknowledging that the movie carries a very powerful message of peace, the director went on to explain how he approached War Horse differently from his other combat films. He said:

I don’t often mix my metaphors and what makes this movie unique It’s a story of love and a story of war, but I don’t see this really as a war movie. This isn’t Saving Private Ryan, this isn’t Band Of Brothers, this isn’t your typical war film, if you look at the movie, there’s only about 12-15 minutes of combat, the cavalry charge and the sequence at the Somme. This isn’t that kind of film.

“I wanted families to see it together, there’s hardly any blood in it at all. It isn’t Saving Private Ryan where I was trying to acquit the testimonies of the young men who fought in France [at the Normandy landings], I was trying to make the movie as brutally authentic as I possibly could. I took a different approach to this story.”

Describing the unique relationship between Albert and his horse, Spielberg continued: “Albert shows tremendous courage in pressing forward on the Somme as he goes out into No Man’s Land. It’s almost blind fear that makes him race forward, and that so often happens, but he also has a reason to be racing forward, he has a goal in his heart of a horse he’s hoping to find amongst the millions of horses in France. He’s audacious enough to think he’ll maybe find the one. And in fact it seems that the one finds him instead.”

War Horse is released in the UK this Friday (January 13). It stars Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch. You can watch footage from last night’s London premiere below.